Easter is almost upon us, a traditional time of joy and family gathering at the important religious celebration in the Catholic calendar.
While families get together, there is a heavy focus on religious tradition, no more so than on the island of Hvar, where – like the rest of Dalmatia – there will be various processions taking place.
The most famous of these is the so-called ‘Za Krizen’ (Behind the Cross) procession, which has taken place on Maundy Thursday every year for over 500 years. Six processions leave simulaneously from Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj and Vrboska, with a barefoot crossbearer leading his acolytes and pilgrims along the 22km route through the other five settlements, before return to the place of origin at 7am on Good Friday and running the final steps, before kneeling in front of the awaiting priest. You can learn more about the tradition in the official UNESCO video below, and there are also lots of other processions, unique in their own way, to explore during Holy Week – a summary from the Jelsa Tourist Board above.
Central Dalmatia may be famous for its beaches, but it is also a region of enormous tradition. Perhaps there is no better symbol of that tradition that the Sinj Alka every year, the last remaining knights tournament in Europe, which has taken place every year in the inland Dalmatian town of Sinj since 1715, as a way of commemorating the replusion of the Siege of Sinj in that year by the Ottomans.
It is a wonderful occasion when the proud men of Sinj attraction national (and increasingly) international attention, and the Croatian President attends every year.
And no so much has changed over the years, as this wonderful video of the 1969 Alka tournament shows.